| | Power Athlete Nation Book Club: Quirky

Author / John

Firstly, thank you so much for everything, all of you have created. Y’all are awesome.

I appreciate when books are mentioned on the show, these make for excellent reading material and extremely useful resources.

Can you possibly create a list of current books to digest or maybe a monthly book recommendation?




Thank you for reaching out! I’m a book guy, always have been; my bookshelf is literally bending with what I’ve collected over the years. I’m hoping that adding our featured gem, Quirky, back to the deck will not force my hand to buy another book, but I digress.

This is not the first inquiry for book recommendations we’ve seen across our desks. @John posted a Course Syllabus to TTMJ nearly 8 years ago, and we have an ever growing list of recommendations from coaches on our Power Athlete Forums. I feel information and takeaways gleaned from books are essential to personal growth and development, but real knowledge is gained through conversation and discussion. These opportunities are rarely formal, and seem to be nothing but attacks these days. At Power Athlete we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to create formal discussion amongst the Crew, strength professionals, or authors of the books we choose to read to expand our knowledge.

One of my personal goals is to connect with more authors like Christopher McDougall and to discuss concepts and information that challenges current views, how people’s perspectives have changed over time, and most importantly, make connections to the Power Athlete Methodology.

This article will dive into our Power Athlete Radio Episode 247 guest, Melissa Schilling’s latest book: Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World.

Concepts: Creative genius characteristics

In Episode 247, Melissa goes into the history of what sparked her research for Quirky, beginning with Steve Jobs in 2010 when he was not looking so hot. The world was on the verge of losing one of its foremost innovators, and the unspoken question on people’s minds was: would we be able to recreate this magic when he’s no longer here? What makes up an innovator set to change the world? Asking questions like this and studying eight remarkable innovators from recent history led her to identify characteristics that all creative geniuses share:

  1. A sense of separateness – a feeling of being disconnected, or of not belonging, that translated into a disinterest in social interaction or rejection of rules and norms.
  2. A sense of self-efficacy – the belief that they can overcome all obstacles to achieve their goals.
  3. Keenly idealistic – pursuing goals they thought were intrinsically noble and important.
  4. Remarkably exceptional memory – a strong visual memory that is almost like hallucinating, most likely what people mean by the term “photographic memory”
  5. Autodidacts – strongly preferred teaching themselves to a more formal school environment

Throughout the book, Melissa uses the innovator’s experiences to show the importance of how each of these characteristics plays into both their personal development, and into their creations. One of my favorite was Thomas Edison’s display of self-efficacy on multiple occasions; no doubt ya’ll have heard the line, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Challenges: fostering innovation

After having the discussion with Melissa and reflecting on the book, I felt challenged to begin to apply many of the concepts discussed and covered in the final chapter of the book: Nurturing the Potential That Lies Within. Much of my work is centered around developing coaches and athletes and I am applying tools picked up from Quirky to both groups. While the specific tools for each group differ, the objective remains the same: Empower Performance.

Have people work alone before working in teams

The online Power Athlete Methodology course is broken up into semesters versus enrolling at anytime. The aim here is develop the ability to speak intelligently about specific concepts. Before engaging in discussions, such as “What is potential?”, students are tasked with reading specific lessons and developing a position before delivering their take.

Get rid of norms of consensus

I am consistently challenged by the best, @Luke “10th Man” Summers, who disagrees even when he agrees. (side-hustle note: Luke and I’s arguments have reached new heights with competing columns in “Irish Arguments Weekly,” Americas only ALL CAPS magazine.) Now that Quirky has given him support from eight world class innovators to challenge everything. I am taking this to conversations with our Block One Coaches in efforts to expand their comprehension with the goal, like Dr. Bryan Mann, to push the field.

Changes: Challenge Children

There was an incredible amount of enlightening and new information presented in Quirky, which has certainly caused me to change my current way of thinking, especially when it came to children. I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but I have a few nephews to practice getting these dialed in ;).

One of the key characteristics of the creative geniuses listed above is self-efficacy – the belief that they can overcome all obstacles to achieve their goals; Melissa describes this as one of the most valuable gifts we can give to kids. Developing from an early age a faith that you’re able to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals is invaluable, creative genius or not. My old way of thinking was to let the barbell or stressful game/practice situation teach the lesson; Quirky lays out the importance of having kids not only witness, but also experience, success at overcoming challenges.

I plan on still using the barbell and sport situations to teach lessons, but I will focus on crafting situations for early wins and providing direction following failure. When a kid is under the bar, they’re doing the work to overcome the obstacle. There is no “rescuing” them. The Bedrock program is a beautiful parallel for this: give the athlete a problem hard enough to challenge their ability yet is likely to be solved…then add weight to the bar.

Connections: empowering principles

I found connections throughout Quirky to the development of the Power Athlete Methodology, breaking down sport demands, and the art of coaching. One of the most fascinating chapters charged up with connections was when Schilling dove into the Creative Mind. The eight innovator’s minds and actions are broken down into incredibly intriguing information such as the biological processes in creativity, and how levels of certain personality traits such as “openness to experience” play a role in their creative process.

What specifically jumped out to me was highlighting the innovators’ drive to find fundamental principles! Quirky has now unlocked more examples for principle-based approaches such as Albert Einstein! Melissa describes Al’s urge to uncover fundamental principles in the mechanics of the universe like gravity and light in order to unlock solutions for his theories.

“In this field, I soon learned how to scent out that which was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside…from a multitude of things which clutter up the mind and divert it from the essential.” – Albert Einstein

Al, we appreciate you going to battle with the bullshit of your day! A common influencer we’ve referenced previously has been Bruce Lee and his training philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. This approach is based on the principles Lee believe to be universal combat truths; his system utilizes different tools for different situations, applying minimal movements with maximum effects and extreme speeds. The Power Athlete Methodology takes the same approach: use the best, dump the rest. We’ve taken Biological Laws and best practices to drive adaptation, and organized them towards our purpose: Empowering Performance and developing athleticism.

It’s not rocket science, but it’s also not a matter of blind luck. We dive head first into the methodology and the training principles we apply in our online Power Athlete Methodology – Level One course. Take the red pill to go down the training rabbit hole here.

Dive into Quirky, it will not disappoint. If you’re interested in getting a head start on our next PA Nation Book Club read, check out Outsmart Your Instincts. We’ll be hosting one of their authors Adam Hansen on Power Athlete Radio in April.

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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.

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